A colorful personality and equally bright canned, sparkling agua frescas brand won the evening among Colorado gold autumn leaves at Naturally Boulder’s 17th Annual Pitch Slam and Autumn Awards.
Frescos Naturales took home first place in the pitch slam competition.
Five brands earned three minutes to pitch and answer questions from a judges panel for a shot at a prize package that includes a booth at Natural Products Expo East 2022.
Pitching brands were: Core and Rind, Fossil Fuel Donuts, Frescos Naturales, Pastaficio Boulder and Wild Barn Coffee.
Winner Juan Ignacio Stewart tested his agua frescas beverages in farmers market first in 2019, alongside hot sauces that have been growing for seven years at markets and local groceries including King Soopers and Natural Grocers. The reaction spurred him to speed. He knew right away, he says, “I need to develop this; and I need to do it now before anybody else does.”
The frescas are “driven by the love of our culture” and made with just fruit, plants and water. Flavors include hibiscus, tamarind, passion fruit, pineapple, guava and mango.
For Stewart, growing the brand isn’t just about aguas frescas but Latin representation on the shelf. That shows up in Frescos Naturales in authentic flavors, product names, branding and bilingual labels. Add to the timing the awakening he has seen for civil rights and the movement toward equality for all minorities, people of color, women, LGBTQ, “it’s beautiful, it’s just the right time,” he said.
“I feel the immigrant community is the backbone of this country; it holds it up,” he added. “It's everything from farmworkers to the people in the kitchens to everybody. We are here, and it's time for us, too.”
He might say that he would start with a beverage rather than a hot sauce if he were to do it all again. But growing a business from his grandmother’s recipe has given him the confidence to say Frescos Naturales will grow big.
“I can't explain to you, but I am so confident about what we're making … I don't know how to say it, but it's like I know.”
Also placing in the Naturally Boulder pitch slam were:
Second place: Pastaficio, an organic, heirloom wheat craft pasta company.
Third place: Fossil Fuel Donuts, a confection company focused on plant-based keto indulgences.
Additional Naturally Boulder industry awards went to:
Danone North America as the Climate Catalyst.
Cappello’s for Breakout Brand.
Justin Levy of Conscious Alliance as the Industry Leader/Community Champ.